Oct 9, 2008

Nigerian Suya

Some time ago, I happened upon a dish called ‘Suya‘. It looked utterly fantastic! Not having heard of it before, I googled it. Found several recipes and -even though most of them were different- they all had one thing in common; simplicity. Later on I learned Suya is a very popular Nigerian barbecued street food that you can mainly find at night.

Now depending on where you live, you may call this satay, kabob or even simply ‘meat on a stick’. However, what makes Suya stand out from all those other grilled ‘meat sticks’ is the use of a special peanut spice rub. It gives the chicken (or meat) a unique flavor, fragrance and texture.

The ingredients are simple and pure -precisely how I like it- but don’t let the simplicity fool you because it’s one of the most flavorful ways to prepare chicken/meat. Because of the simpleness you should have no problem assembling the ingredients, no matter where you live. Chances are, you already have everything you need in your pantry.

Over time I tweaked the ingredients a bit, so what you see here is the recipe as I like it best. Just add or subtract whatever you like.


2 large chicken fillets
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup peanuts
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sugar
red onion


If you use wooden skewers, wrap the exposed parts in foil. The old fashioned way was soaking them in water for 30 minutes, but really, this doesn’t prevent them from burning.

My mortar & pestle or my spice mill? I was really on the fence about it, but didn’t have enough time for too much manual labor, so my spice mill won. You can use your food processor, blender or magic bullet for this as well.

Add one cup roasted peanuts, pop the lid on and pulsate several times until you end up with a coarse powdery substance. Be careful not to overdo it or you’ll end up with some strange kind of peanut butter!

Now add (in no particular order) 1 tsp paprika powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/8 tsp hot chili powder (up it if you like it hot), 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar.

Also get 2 tbsp grated ginger and 1 garlic clove (grated) in there.

Put the lid back on and pulsate a few more times until everything has properly blended.

Get it all in a bowl and use a fork to mix or break it up a bit. Officially you want to get a really fine spice rub, but I always keep the rub a bit coarser. I just like the contrast between the soft chicken and the crunchy peanut coating.

You just don’t want to know how good this smells. Well, maybe you do. Most of the work is done now, there’s your spice rub. Pretty easy, eh?

Cut up a few chicken fillets. You can replace the chicken with any kind of meat you like, so don’t feel like I pressured you into using chicken for a chicken Suya! Now would I do such a thing?

Pour a little oil over the chicken cubes. I didn’t really measure, it was probably close to a tbsp.

Now technically you can do this with a fork, but do you really want to get all technical about this? Nah, come on, dig your hands in there and do the hustle.

Transfer the chicken to a bowl and cover with your spice rub. If it wouldn’t have been for the photos I wouldn’t have bothered using a spoon, believe me. Now mix it all up and allow it to sit for a while. I usually let the flavors incorporate for roughly 30 minutes.

Now wash your hands and make yourself a nice cup of coffee. I’ll wait.

After about 30 minutes it’s time to get serious. Grab your skewer of choice – I’m going for these fancy black steel skewers. Now they’re probably gonna be a whole lot less fancy if I tell you they came with the kabobs I’ve ordered some time ago. For free. They work great!

You can also do this reversed – first attach the chicken to the skewers and then sprinkle the spice rub, but for some reason I always do it this way.

Now there are several ways to cook Suya. Traditionally they are (slowly) roasted over charcoal fire, but well, I’m in the Netherlands and we just don’t have charcoal fire weather here. You can use a BBQ, or you can cook them in a preheated oven (400F-200C) for 30 minutes. As for me, I like grilling them on my stove top. Then again, I like grilling everything on my stove top.

First lightly oil the grill plate.

Grill them over low heat until they’re golden brown. Flip them over every 2 minutes or so, you don’t want them to end up charred. Charred peanuts lose their charm quickly, I speak from experience. Depending on the size of the chicken and how hot your grill is, they should be done in roughly 10 to 12 minutes.

While the Suya is cooking, finely slice a red onion. You can sautee the slices or use them raw. I prefer to use them raw in this dish. If raw onions are too strong a flavor for you, try putting them in really cold water for about 10 minutes, this will mellow them.

Serve your Suya royally covered with the thinly sliced onion – traditionally you should also serve them with thinly sliced tomato on top. I’m not too crazy about that combo, though. I just like to eat them with baked potatoes and snap beans on the side, but that’s just me.

Is this pretty or what? See the ones in the middle? I ate them! Yes, both of them!

    © kayotic.com
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    1. 1

      Man, those look great! It’s like satay, but built right in! What kind of paprika did you use? Hot? Sweet? Smoked? (I have all three.) Your pictures are gorgeous, but you know that. ;)

      That there is dinner tonight, along with some sesame peanut noodles. Yay!

      Peggasus on Oct 9, 2008 @ 6:18 pm Reply
    2. 2

      They’re so tasty. I only wish we could buy smoked paprika here … I’ve used the hot paprika this time! The paprika is mainly for the color in this dish.

      Kay on Oct 9, 2008 @ 6:20 pm Reply
    3. 3

      Thanks, Kay! I just was able to put my grubby little mitts on some smoked paprika recently, which I picked up when I went to Portland, OR, to see my friend in May. I had not been able to find it here in smalltown central Illinois no matter where I looked before that. The smoked paprika IS really good, but certainly not for all applications. I used it in the marinade when I made some beef jerky last week, and it was excellent in that, for sure.

      Peggasus on Oct 9, 2008 @ 7:50 pm Reply
    4. 4

      I’m envious. The only way I can get my hands on smoked paprika is when I order it online and pay an indecent amount of money to have it shipped to the Netherlands!

      Kay on Oct 11, 2008 @ 8:19 pm Reply
    5. 5

      So simple, but yet so good!! I will be giving this a try in the next week, great job with the detailed instructions.

      Jason on Oct 12, 2008 @ 1:56 am Reply
    6. 6

      Been here for the first time. thr tastespotting………
      Your recipes are making me hungry!!Gosh i just had my dinner…
      They look real fabulous on the skewers with onions.
      The peanut powder u made for the chicken coating is actually eaten along with hot steamed rice+a tsp of ghee in my part of India.
      You know that tastes real heaven with a nice aroma.Try it for urself…….

      raaji on Nov 14, 2008 @ 8:30 am Reply
    7. 7

      This dish looks like it would be absolutely delicioso! One question tho=
      Could you write your recipe (simple) and make it ‘printable’??? Thanks.

      CynthiaKR on Nov 18, 2008 @ 9:55 pm Reply
    8. 8

      Cynthia, below every recipe there’s a little printer icon that allows you to print just the text.

      Kay on Nov 18, 2008 @ 9:57 pm Reply
    9. 9

      Hello from San Francisco! Just discovered your delicious Web site–what fantastic, unique recipes. Can’t wait to try this!

      Kasey on Jan 18, 2009 @ 9:52 pm Reply
    10. 10

      I love the way peanuts are used in African cuisines. Can’t wait to try this recipe…

      Michelle on Jan 22, 2009 @ 12:32 am Reply
    11. 11

      Oh Good God gave us this food. I migrated to DR. I went back after eleven years and Suya was one of the dishes I longed to try again.

      Prince on Feb 19, 2009 @ 4:45 am Reply
    12. 12

      Very well written..and the pics are fabulous.

      Dolly on Mar 18, 2009 @ 3:58 am Reply
    13. 13

      I made these last night and they were delicious. I also made Kay’s glazed carrot recipe over jasmin rice and a green salad. What a dinner it was!

      Mike on Apr 28, 2009 @ 12:19 am Reply
    14. 14

      ik ben zelf ook een nigeriaan. en ik zou je vertellen nigeriaanse gerechten zijn het beste ter wereld. suya is zo lekker ik sweer het je. als jullie ooit naar nigeria komen, moeten jullie het uit proberen.

      yemi on Jun 8, 2009 @ 11:31 am Reply
    15. 15

      bna informacion pero solo kiero saber el nombre del platillo

      katy on Jun 10, 2009 @ 2:33 am Reply
    16. 16

      Fantastic! I’m from Nigeria though living in the USA presently. Your recipe is spot on. Beef suya is the most common though, then there’s also goat suya. Great recipe. And to think you haven’t even been there
      @katy, el nombre del platillo es “Suya” – un pastillo de Nigeria. Creo que hay algo similares de Peru … se llama anticuchos.

      tayo on Jul 29, 2009 @ 8:49 pm Reply
    17. 17

      I live din Nigeria as a boy for many years.In philadelphia now, I stumbled on this particyular recipe a few years ago and it was wonderful. Many attempts of trial and error finally gave me the best taste that you talk of here. Good job.
      Kay, In fact Nigerians have it at night along the road sides in the North and in Hotels or clubs they have it with Beer- as do I here :)
      I could not have done a better job .

      Subin on Aug 21, 2009 @ 10:46 pm Reply
    18. 18

      Tried these tonight – too gingery for me – but I had 2 tbsp grated ginger rather than 2 tbsp ginger grated – and for me it using regular paprika could have been better with a pinch of cayenne or chilli

      great idea though, and I look forward to tweaking it to my taste.

      Haze on Dec 23, 2009 @ 7:58 pm Reply
    19. 19

      Superb suya photos……! When my mum visited me in the Netherlands, she brought me the ready made spice…which is in my deep freezer. I should send you some (seriously, email me if you’d like a try.) and then you can compare/contrast. We usually serve it with sliced tomatoes, and chilies and some more of the spice paste on the side. Proud to see this on a Dutch food blog!

      Kitchen Butterfly on Jul 10, 2010 @ 12:37 pm Reply
    20. 20

      I just made this using your recipe and it was easy to make and very mouth watering.. Thanks……

      miles atughonu on Sep 26, 2010 @ 10:17 pm Reply
    21. 21

      hello, my name rylana im from belgium.my husband from nigeria.
      i like your recipes a lot.im gonna try making them all for my husband.
      he will be verry happy.a great site you have. with recipes i can really make without thinking too much.  really good done.greats from me and my husband.

      rylana on Jan 15, 2011 @ 6:04 pm Reply
    22. 22

      this website is great it has been a long time since i ate suya thanks kay

      adedoyin on Feb 19, 2011 @ 12:21 am Reply
    23. 23

      this website is great .it has been a long time since i ate suya i am so happy i found the website i know what i will eat for dessert thanks kay

      adedoyin on Feb 19, 2011 @ 12:23 am Reply

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